I missed the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. Even with the controversy, I don’t regret missing it. At the time, I was ticked off by the commercials and uninspired by the “superstars” scheduled to perform. I wanted nothing to do with the crapfest that is the Super Bowl halftime show. (For what it’s worth, I watched the special features on my rented copy of the spectacular The Real World You Never Saw: Paris). With that warning, I present to you my view on the fallout from the chaos.
Every news outlet has the same article covering the outrage over this, but I read it in The Washington Post. I don’t care about the hype that goes with this and the blame being placed at the doors of CBS. By all accounts, they handled the situation well by turning the cameras away immediately and not belaboring the point in the broadcast booth. Assuming those accounts are true, that’s the way to be professional about the unexpected. What I disagree with is the initial response from the FCC Chairman. In particular, this:
“I am outraged at what I saw during the halftime show of the Super Bowl,” Powell said. “Like millions of Americans, my family and I gathered around the television for a celebration. Instead, that celebration was tainted by a classless, crass and deplorable stunt. Our nation’s children, parents and citizens deserve better.”
He told the commission to open an investigation, promising it would be “thorough and swift.” Such an investigation could result in a fine of up to $27,500 or — if the FCC applied the sanction to each CBS station — in the millions.
Even though I believe America is too puritanical about nudity on television, I agree that the Super Bowl halftime show isn’t the place to show naked people. I have a problem with the deplorable intention behind Mr. Powell’s “thorough and swift” investigation. There’s no question that it aired, so that fact isn’t in dispute. However, mollifying the outraged public with a swift boot up someone’s ass isn’t the way to deal with this.
Fairness is still the overriding principle needed in the eventual resolution. The public doesn’t care how this is handled. If the resolution isn’t decided before tomorrow morning’s broadcast of the Today Show, no one will care. The FCC needs to take it’s time to determine the facts, then allow CBS the opportunity to resolve the matter.
If CBS was unaware that this would occur, they shouldn’t be fined for an accident. They could’ve put the halftime show on a delay, but I’m assuming that was never deemed necessary before now. I have no doubt that future telecasts of the halftime show will be on a delay, which is a smart business reaction to this unforeseen negative event.
Which leads to this:
The FCC has come under fire from lawmakers and outside groups who say the agency hasn’t done enough to shield the public from indecent programming on radio and TV.
An excessive response from the FCC isn’t the way to do this. The primary responsibility of regulatory/legislative bodies in America is to enforce standards, whatever the issue. (I contend that American standards on this issue are wrong, but I’m making a general point.) The FCC needs to allow the broadcast networks to self-police themselves for future Super Bowls before clamping down with action.
Finally, I know we all waited with anticipation to know this:
At the White House, President Bush said he missed the show.
“Saw the first half, did not see the halftime — I was preparing for the day and fell asleep,” he told reporters Monday after a Cabinet meeting.
I love that our president couldn’t stay awake long enough to finish watching the game.